Happy Friday. “Drama in Dallas” - that’s the headline we’d write if we were a tabloid paper.
Admittedly, though, it kind of fits…Nationals has been a doozy:
We still have a couple more days left. So, strike the above: we are no tabloid. It’s drama. It’s happening in Dallas. And we’ve covered it below.
In This Issue:
🏃 Keep clear of your partner on the volley
🎓 Finally, high schoolers have a competitive event
🎮 Official game of the PPA Tour
The Two Become One Rule
Andrei Daescu got a little over-eager at the kitchen line in his mixed doubles game with partner Anna Bright
Daescu crashed into Bright as she volleyed a ball over the net — during the collision, Daescu’s foot stepped on the kitchen line
Play was immediately halted and a foot fault was called
Referee Courtney Johnson explained her call, reminding us that the two players became one in this scenario. If they make contact with each other while volleying, then neither player can set foot in the kitchen.
Rule 9C of the USA Pickleball reads:
9.C. During the act of volleying, it is a fault if the volleying player’s momentum causes the player to contact anything that is touching the non-volley zone, including the player’s partner.
This rule prevents any Dirty Dancing or Iron Lotus lifts that would let a player volley while being supported by their partner, which would be incredible to see.
So next time you’re on the court, save yourself from losing a point. Or better yet, call out those filthy cheaters on the other side if you see a Rule 9.C. violation.
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APP to Debut Regional High School Pickleball Tournament
The APP Tour was busy expanding its scope this year, and a new result of its rebirth has been announced: the inaugural Midwest High School Pickleball Tournament.
The event will take place on December 28-29, 2023, at Grand Park Event Center in Westfield, Indiana.
High school pickleball teams from Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Wisconsin are invited to participate in the event.
An APP press release says John Moorin, creative director and a senior professional pickleball player, saw a growing demand from high school pickleball players to play against each other in a competitive setting and helped develop this tournament as a result.
In the tournament world, we've got professional pickleball, college pickleball, and now, high school pickleball. Could these tournaments be the scouting ground for the next AL Waters or Hayden Patriquin?
Click here for more info on the high school tournament.
Soon, You Can Play The Pros…
…Or play as their likenesses, at least.
The PPA Tour recently teased an upcoming video game that’s been in development for over a year and a half with game developer Farsight.
The game’s official title and release date aren’t live yet, but a PPA representative tells us they’re aiming to drop it this winter.
Some of you may have caught the demo version that Jay Devilliers played on-site at Nationals. PPA says that is far from the final version, which Farsight created with the help of motion-captured pros like ALW and Ben Johns.
PPA’s VP of Communications Jeff Watson says that while you can't compare this game to something like football's Madden games - which have been in development for over 20 years - you could say this does give pickleball a different form of legitimacy.
“It will expand the image and names of some of our players to people who haven't heard of them,” Watson says.
“They'll see Jay Devillier with his big shoulders and headband and then recognize the real thing when they see him on the court. It's another touchpoint for fans who see it on the news.”
The PPA Tour game will release on Steam, Nintendo Switch, Playstation and XBox.
Whenever it drops, you can be sure we’ll be breaking out the ‘Dew and forgetting to wash our clothes for a week…unless it’s sunny out, in which case we’ll probably just play the real thing.
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Drama In Dallas
The BioFreeze 2023 USA Pickleball National Championships are underway in Dallas. Apparently everyone got the memo except Mother Nature.
Rain all day yesterday moved play inside and may have played a part in the biggest upset of the weekend.
Ben Johns has been vocal about preferring to play outdoors. His 108 match win streak ended in a similar scenario when rain moved play indoors at the Tournament of Champions in 2021.
Yesterday, he lost in two straight games to the 16-seed Chris Haworth. Haworth has been steadily improving and finding podiums on the APP Tour in 2023, but this is the biggest win of his career. Can he parlay it into a Nationals win?
This week has been the debut of the progression draw and PickleballTV.
In the progression draw, only one round of each division is played per day. Today is the Quarterfinal round. The semifinals will take place tomorrow. The week will conclude with the finals on Championship Sunday.
PickleballTV is the new broadcasting offspring of the PPA Tour and Tennis Channel. This week has featured a new look including a broadcast desk where players are interviewed after a win and 24/7 pickleball content viewing.
Tune into the Quarterfinals now. Reply to the email and let us know if you love or hate the progression draw.
But we can’t talk about Nationals without talking about The Incident.
AJ Koller is no longer playing at Nationals after getting into a physical altercation with Federico Staksrud yesterday.
But as you’d expect, the drama doesn’t stop there. Frequent partner of Staksrud, Pablo Tellez, who’s been known to get vocal with crowds and was even deemed the ‘bad boy of pickleball’ in a recent PPA blog post, posted a story reading, “Why are they hiding the truth? AJ ASSAULTED Federico at the venue yesterday. He needs to be banned from the sport.” (Seems a bit dramatic).
Meanwhile, PPA's media arm, pickleballdotcom, posted, deleted, and reposted a graphic with different language about the consequence of Koller’s actions.
It went from reading as a “disqualification” to “AJ Koller pulls out of Nationals.”
I guess they let him go with an ‘honorable discharge’?
We even posted about the altercation on Instagram, only to delete it later because we simply weren’t sure what the heck was going on. And frankly, we still aren’t.